I had the pleasure of interviewing a fellow plus size blogger and body positive advocate that has been on my radar for a long time. Corissa Arlene of Fat Girl Flow is a refreshingly honest voice with a wicked fashion sense to boot. Read on to find out more about her journey as a blogger thus far and the endeavours she passionately advocates.
Tell us what got you started with blogging.
About 5 years ago I was really struggling with disordered eating and feeling miserable in my body. I go where most people go when looking for answers... Google. I found an amazing blog called ThatCortnieGirl.com. Along with being introduced to body positive concepts I had never heard of, I was also introduced to Tumblr. I've been casually blogging on tumblr since then, and created fatgirlflow.com as a more focused voice for my self love journey in April of this year.
I adore the title of your blog, Fat Girl Flow! What made you come up with the title?
It's kind of a play on the hashtag #workflow. When I would do things like wear crop tops showing off my belly, or posing in a swimsuit I would hashtag it #fatgirlflow. It's my flow. I love it.
It is so good to know of bloggers like you who speak actively about the need for more size diversity in the plus size industry. What does that mean for you? On that note, tell us more about your plus size swimsuit post that has garnered attention worldwide.
My blog has made me so much more aware of my own privilege, even within the fat community. I am usually at the very end of the size ranges for most plus size clothing lines. I want to make sure that I'm always considerate of my friends that are fatter than me, because they deserve great clothes and the chance to express their style just as much as I do.
This summer I wrote a post titled 'We Exist: Diversity In Plus Size Bodies'. I wanted to create a swimwear post that did not look like every other swimsuit post. I know that there is an overwhelming amount of people with bodies that look like mine in the plus size community. I'm white, conventionally attractive, able bodied, and can fit into most plus size clothing lines. While I may not be the most represented person, I am definitely far more represented in the plus size community than a lot of other people. There are so many people around me that inspire me and create an environment that fosters learning and accountability. This community is not progressive and forward moving because of people who look like me, it's because of people who are underrepresented. They are the ones who's voices push for more inclusivity, and I wanted to take the time to celebrate them and their bodies.
How do you see think the plus size industry can include more size diversity? Are there companies or organisations you know of that have embraced this?
I think a great start to that is of course adding more sizes. I am aware that there's not an overwhelming amount of manufacturers making clothes in up to 6x, which makes a lot of small retailers unable to carry those sizes. However, there are many large retailers that create and manufacture their own lines and are absolutely able to extend their sizes and actively choose not to.
But size diversity is not just about extending size ranges. It's also about designing clothes meant for plus size bodies, and showing those clothes on the people who will be purchasing them! So often, clothing is not designed with large bellies or ample arms in mind. We're getting straight sized clothing patterns just with inches added, which just isn't good enough. In addition to that, we need plus size models who's bodies are not hourglass shaped size 14's. I want to see what clothes will look like on someone who looks like ME!
There are several indie designers who are working really hard to be more inclusive. Chubby Cartwheels, Ready To Stare, Ayesme (on etsy), Smart Glamour, Curvy Girl Lingerie and SWAK designs are all great brands that have embraced creating beautiful pieces for larger sizes and use models of all sizes in their ads. I love them, and think they deserve all the praise in the world for leading the way in innovation.
What is your take on fat acceptance and how do you think we could promote it better?
I think it's imperative that fat people get the respect they deserve and that we break down stereotypes about people with fat bodies. The idea that anyone in our society should have a war waged on their appearance is both unacceptable and violent. The discrimination fat people face is real, and if effects our ability to live fulfilling lives. Just the idea of having to "promote" our need for acceptance is pretty ridiculous. But of course we both know we have to do that, because that's how change happens. Speaking up when you can in your daily life is super important, but even more important than that is taking the power you have as a consumer and demanding acceptance from companies that don't practice it. Call people out on fatphobia, use social media to discuss oppression, and listen to your peers. Because some times the best way to promote things is by educating yourself and listening to those around you.
What would your advice be for someone struggling to embrace her plus sized body?
Speak kindly to yourself. This shit is really hard, and being angry with yourself for not "getting it" is just another form of self hate. The world has taught you a million ways to hate yourself, and you're trying to learn and hang on to just a couple ways to love yourself. It's going to take awhile. That's ok. Until then, just try to keep your internal monologue away from saying nasty things.
Do you feel your style aesthetic has shifted since blogging? and How so?
Absolutely. I think most people know this, but don't want to really talk about it but MY STYLE HAS CHANGED PEOPLE GIVE ME FREE CLOTHES NOW!!! Now, I'm not saying I get all my clothes for free, that's far from true. But when you go from only being able to buy one new thing a month, to getting complimentary gift cards to buy whatever you'd like you're gonna get a little more stylish. The difference between when I began blogging, and now is just accessibility. I have access to the clothes I actually want to wear, which has made my style SO much more reflective of who I am and how I like to dress. I try to keep in mind that accessibility is an incredibly important part of fashion, and that it's a privilege to be able to express myself through my clothing. I actually think that is one part of blogging I'm failing in right now, and really trying to work on. I want to make my blog posts more accessible, and I'm currently exploring different ways to write about wardrobes on a budget and how to utilize inexpensive accessories.
Where are your go-to places for plus size shopping?
I love Modcloth, Eshakti, and Old Navy, but all of my coolest clothes definitely come from independent designers and collection curators.
What are some wardrobe staples that you love?
Jeans and leather. I love great fitting denim, and any kind of clothing that makes me feel like I'm vibe-ing with the earth. I like to feel like I look chic, but could always get a little dirty and that would just add to the look. Leather jackets and jeans totally make that possible.
You have a YouTube channel as well! What do you speak about in your videos? Which fatshion or body positive people do you recommend following on YouTube?
I DO! It's my new exciting thing I'm doing and I'm loving it! I focus mostly on fashion hauls, and short videos about body positivity but I also talk about sex and relationships and anything else that I'm feeling like discussing.
I've been kind of disappointed with the body positive community on YouTube. Even when I find someone who says they're body positive, I watch a few videos and they're not super inclusive. But there are a few really great ones! I love Kat Blaque, Megan Murphy, and TatiAnaMercedes!
What has your experience of being a plus size blogger been like so far? How has it impacted your personal views and evolution? Have there been any setbacks?
It has been unbelievably fulfilling for me to be able to write every day and share my journey with others. I love being so connected with the fat community and the people in it, because they push me to continue challenging the norm. I get to share my life with people who understand me, and teach me how to understand myself. It's incredible. Some times it can be hard to figure out where you fit in, but I have an amazing support system in my life who encourages me to just keep being me, and to be as authentic as possible.
Which plus size bloggers do you personally look up to and Why?
I love Virgie Tovar. She takes these huge complicated social issues, and makes them so understandable and easy to explore. I really admire Marie Denee and TheCurvyFashionista, it's kind of amazing how huge that blog has become and how well curated it is. Gloria Lucas of NalgonaPridePositivity may have the most best social media on earth. I love when someone's social media is just as relevant and poignant as their blog!
How do you deal with body shaming that you might come across in person? What advice would you give to someone who experiences this?
Take care of yourself, always. When you face body shaming, do whatever you need to do to make sure you are safe. Some times that means getting rid of shitty people, and some times that means a lot of self care until you can get out of the situation. Just keep yourself safe, and be kind to yourself.
AARTI is a South Asian plus size blogger and body positive advocate. She identifies as a feminist, activist, and writer. Aarti is a psychotherapist by profession with a focus on contemplative psychotherapy and psychoanalysis. She unwinds with old jazz, her three dogs two cats and funny cat videos.